New technologies impact almost every industry and Healthcare is no exception to Virtual Reality (VR) an upcoming Technology. “VR is a completely computer-generated, immersive and three-dimensional environment that is displayed either on a computer screen or through special stereoscopic displays, such as the HTC Vive, Oculus Rift etc.”. It is still in its early days in terms of providing potential breakthroughs in treatment and supporting widespread clinical adoption. However in this new world of emerging technologies in Healthcare, innovating new initiatives to healthier living is imperative and Virtual Reality can surely help to take it one step further.
Helping to train the next generation of physicians
VR is a cost-effective, safe, and engaging method for training students and medical practitioners in complicated surgical procedures. It provides an immersive realistic environment for effective hands-on training to improve surgical precision and patient outcome. One example is the, heart catheterization simulation available in UC Davis Center for Virtual Care. Future Cardiologists find it easy to perform on a mannequin named “Samantha” that provides a realistic experience, completely risk-free. Apart from providing medical assistance through remote communication, learning from remote locations is also made easier using virtual reality simulation.
For Pain Management and Rehabilitation
Patients who get to feel severe pain such as amputees and burn victims can really benefit from VR therapy. Virtual Reality helps to alleviate the psychological and physical pain experienced during painful medical procedures to a large extent by distracting the mind with immersive experiences. For example in a Los Angeles hospital, patients in chronic or acute pain use special headgear and travel virtually through scenic Iceland’s waterfalls and valleys and experience ease from different types of pain such as cancer, orthopedic injuries, burn pain etc. Another example is the use of VR and interactive video gaming to enhance stroke rehabilitation. Virtual Interactive Simulation Environment for everyday tasks allow patients to practice and regain their cognitive skills at their own time and pace
Virtual Reality Exposure Therapy
Although still in its infancy, Virtual reality services exposure therapy has significant potential to provide relief from post-traumatic stress and extreme phobias. One of the certified treatment for PTSD (Post Traumatic Stress Disorder) is prolonged exposure to traumatic events in both imaginary and real-life settings. VR can help to boost the efficiency of exposure therapy by creating fictitious, safe, and acceptable situations for exposure sessions thereby improving symptomatic and functional outcomes.
Fitness Management is made a lot more fun and less tedious through virtual worlds. Depending on the game being played, users can interact and activate either the entire upper body, core, or lower body. Players are engulfed by epically designed images and sounds and enjoy an all-in-one immersive exercise experience. VR thus provides an enjoyable alternative for strength training compared to a commercial gym.
These are just a few of the significant examples of Virtual Reality providing a transformative experience in the way healthcare operates. Apart from the emotional benefits such as enhancing entertainment, empathy, creativity, and expression, VR offers a host of practical advantages too; in various therapies and treatments to improve patients’ health and well-being. We need to tap into its full potential big time!
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